|Ernie played his first official game for the first team in the league home defeat to Dewsbury by 9 points to 2. He played at stand off parnersing Arthur Cross in the half backs in this match. Ernie was on loan from Oldham for this game. Ernie later signed for the Saints from Workington Town and played on the wing in a 1949 friendly match against Leeds as well as in two league matches that season against Wakefield Trinity and Hull KR; by this time Ernie was operating on the left wing. |
Ernie Large A Real Gentleman!
This extract appeared in All Local Lads, the history of St.Helens and Pilkington Recs and was written by Denis Whittle.
Raised in Clyde Street and a pupil of Lowe House school, lightning-legged Large cut his Rugby League teeth on waste land near Beechams known as ‘the Bruk,’ a fertile breeding ground that also yielded Saints’ stars like George Parr, Tommy Leyland, Josh Gaskell and Roy Robinson plus Warrington and Great Britain choice Eric Fraser A glasscutter at Pilkingtons, Large became Recs’ youngest signing when putting pen-to-paper as a tenderfoot 16 in 1932, and adorned the left wing berth for the next six seasons, scoring many superb tries in the process. Among Ernie’s high spots was being included in the Recs-Saints team defeated 15-7 by Australia at Knowsley Road in 1937. Other City Road heroes in the local line-up were Albert Bailey, Eli Dixon, Bill Parr, Tommy Dunn and Jack Atherton. During that season Large also enjoyed the rare distinction of marking Alf Ellaby at Central Park after the great man had left Saints for Wigan—and Ernie kept Alf try-less! “Luck played a big part in that,” remembered the modest Recs’ winger, “because Alf saw little of the ball.”
Recs’ resignation from the Rugby League following a 1919-1939 stint meant that redundant players were seeking pastures new, but that had to be put on a six-year hold due to storm clouds of war hovering overhead. After Army service in India Ernie joined Oldham he rode pillion with another ex-Rec, Bill Parr from North Road where his regular centre was Norman Harris, grandfather of latter-day legend Iestyn. “I was very happy at Watersheddings,” reflected Large, “from where I was selected for Lancashire, and was in the frame for a place on the 1946 tour, but Jimmy Lewthwaite got the casting vote. However all that changed as I was delivering milk for the Co-op in Haydock when a car stopped and out stepped Workington Manager Gus Risman, who persuaded me to join the new side that he was building at Borough Park. I stayed there for one season before travelling to Cumbria in winter proved too much, so I was transferred to Saints in 1949 where I appeared in a handful of games prior to ending my career with Liverpool City, for whom I played against Saints when Knotty Ash Stadium was opened.”
A schools ‘lollipop man’ in his later years, gentleman Ernie Large loved to relive his Rugby League days - particularly with Recs - at his Mill Street home just half a mile from City Road. He died in 2006 at the ripe old age of 89, survived by his wife Marie, sons Ernie and Ken, daughter Sheila plus extended family.